Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Green Lantern may have been the worst superhero movie way more than 10 minutes

So I've had several days to wallow in my own misery and I figured its time to share some of that sadness with you fine folks. The misery I speak of, is of course, the train wreck that was the Green lantern movie. I went through several thought processes on just if and how I should voice my opinion of this film. The first was the "sweep it under the rug" approach where I'd just pretend it never happened and hope you guys didn't notice. That wouldn't be fair though, as I wasted your time in past blogs (for those of you who put up with my nonsense) explaining why Green Lantern matters and why you should go see it. The second approach was the "fly to California and burn down Warner Bros studios" approach, which personally I feel is much more effective and to the point, but then I remembered that Conan works on the WB lot and that wouldn't be fair to I didn't really have "fly to California to commit arson money" just lying around. So after much deliberation in my brain I figured it would be best to just air my grievances here and let people know what I thought. I'm gonna be all over the place with this review/complaint/breakdown of the movie (but the movie was all over the place too so I feel this is only fair).... Also, I will be ranting about and including numerous SPOILERS of the movie so should you still want to experience this horrid wreck of a film yourself, be without further adieu ( shout out to my native Spanish speakers) here we go:

- Okay first I'm going to say something nice. I didn't have a problem with the casting in this film. Many people complained but I felt Ryan Reynolds was just fine as Hal Jordan. Throughout all of the problems I had with the film I honestly felt he cared about the part he was playing and only worked with what he was given. You can really ask no more of him here. This goes for the supporting cast as well. Everyone played their parts well enough (especially Mark Strong who brought Sinestro to the big screen perfectly) and they shouldn't be blamed for this future Razzie winner.

- Second, this movie is one of the most clear examples of corporate tinkering I have ever seen. It seriously reeks of a room full of executives who would say things like "cant we make him save the girl, Superman would save the girl" (theres actually a line in the movie where a character says to Ryan Reynolds, "but the superhero's always get the girl" which prompts pretty much a carbon copy scene from older Superman movies on a balcony) or "lets not show too much outer space stuff because marketing  research shows that the 18-35 yr old demographic prefers action over sci fi". It was just clearly a movie that started off as a great idea and then was taken over by people who had no clue/care what they were doing.

-Third, I've read that the script had at least 4 screenwriters....and boy did it show. At times it was like watching 2 or more different movies.I mean honestly if the movie was about a bipolar superhero than it should probably win an Oscar, but being that I personally have a good knowledge of the Green Lantern Mythos I'd say they missed the mark.The movie couldn't decide if it was a love story, space epic or some weird version of a superhero movie mixed with "The Fly".

- Fourth, I love Angela basset and when I read that she would be playing the role of Amanda Waller I had a little nerd party in my heart. Amanda Waller, for those not in the know (or just those of you with real lives who don't bother with these things), is basically a government agent that is a major player in the DC Universe. Most people (myself included) assumed her inclusion in this movie was the start of something bigger in scale (think Samuel L Jackson's appearances as Nick Fury in the Iron Man/Thor movies) that would eventually lead to a huge Justice League/DC Universe "Event" movie. Boy, was this assumption wrong as her character is actually limited to a few lines and shes pretty much made to be a side character (who gets thrown into glass and beaten senseless seemingly left for dead) and nothing more. Her character and the idea of a larger DC film universe may have been the biggest wasted opportunity in a film full of them. DC has the advantage of having all of their properties owned by Warner Bros. so the idea of a full movie with characters like Superman, Batman, Green Lantern,etc is a real possibility as opposed to Marvel who has licensed many of their major properties (Spiderman/X-Men/Fantastic Four/Ghost Rider/Daredevil) away. Yet here we are one year away from Marvel's huge Avenger film that they have perfectly built up (even with a limited roster) over the past few years and WB still pretty much only has "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Man of Steel" Superman reboot on its horizons (side note: including those 2 films there have been a total of 6 Superman and 7 Batman live action movies over the past 30+ years). Sadly, with the failure that Green Lantern is turning out to be both creatively and financially it doesn't look like the DC movie Universe will be expanding anytime soon.

-Fifth, I am a firm believer that in storytelling a hero is only as strong as their villain and this movie is severely lacking in the villain department. Often the best developed and most complex character, the villain is usually one of the best written/strongest characters in a story (i.e the Joker in "The Dark Knight", Agent Smith in "The Matrix", Lord Voldemort in  the Harry Potter series and the crossing guards in my neighborhood to name a few). Instead what we get here are basically 2 villains, neither of which really deserve the title. The first, more basic of the 2 is Hector Hammond (played by Peter Sarsgard). While I didn't really hate his character , there really wasn't much too him at all ( besides way too many awkward screams of pain that he let out (see the above pic)...I actually think he screamed more than he had lines). The filmmakers tried ( I think?) to make Hector's story be an evil version of Hal's story (living in his father's shadow, gained power from an alien, both assumingly after the same girl). It was basically the really horrible job they did with Eddie Brock/Venom in Spiderman 3 but with Hector Hammond instead. The second villain and a really horrible choice for an origin movie is Parallax. Now I know things cant always be based exactly as it was in the source material, but this was pretty bad. I'd love to give a quick synopsis of Parallax's character from the source material but honestly its just way too complex. The best I can say is Parallax was never written as a giant talking cloud that eats souls ( that is what it was doing right?). The Parallax that fans know and love to hate is literally the manifestation of fear in a celestial form ( pretty sure I've lost whoever of you were still here with that last sentence). Its a character that cant really be beaten and throughout time in the books has come to posses members of the green lantern corps and caused them to do horrible things (including causing Hal Jordan to become a villain himself). Its a villain that could have and probably should have been explored over 2 or 3 films. But its not like that has ever worked before (cough, cough, Sauron) so I guess I understand (cough, cough, Lord of the Rings) why they didn't do that. My Final thought on this subject is the way the villains were disposed of. The first was Hector Hammond being eaten (?) by Parallax and having his skeleton fall to the ground so we know he was dead even though any other character that was consumed by Parallax in the movie was dissolved whole and left behind no skeleton. So they basically made him the villain and before his character even really did anything he gets eaten by the bigger all that?...Good, I didn't either. Next up was Parallax's death (?). So lets backtrack, we've got embodiment of fear...has corrupted a guardian of the universe (this is slightly explained in the movie)... was able to dispose of several of the best green lanterns in the corp without blinking earlier in the film.... has the entire green lantern corp ( a army of 3600 of the universes greatest warriors) in an uproar because they have no clue how to defeat him.... and how is he defeated?.... ohh that's right, the main character of Hal Jordan (who by the end of the film has never really gone through formal training because he quit and has never fully learned how to use his powers) starts to believe in himself and by the power of self assurance punches it in the face causing it to fall into the sun and die....................................................................!@$%&()(*^$#$%&? you say?............yeah that was my reaction too.

- fifth part 2, (for fellow GL nerds only).... why not just use the character of Atrocitus as the main villain? It would have worked perfectly as a stepping stone to larger things and could have better explained Abin Sur's (the alien who died and gave Hal his ring) death. It also would have set up the introduction of the Red Lantern Corps for any possible future installments properly. Wishful thinking on my part perhaps.

-6th, this movie more than any other I can remember in recent memory used its trailers to lie to the audience blatantly. There was one trailer in November of 2010 that was released that somewhat focused on Ryan Reynolds ability to be a smarta$$ more than anything else. The trailer was met with anger from the nerd community and general indifference from normal moviegoers. This "outcry" prompted the WB marketing team to say that they had not finished many special effects shots and that's why so much of the trailer focused on Hal Jordan doing things on earth. They went ahead further and silenced most naysayers in late March/early April (In retrospect maybe this whole movie was one giant ongoing April fools joke...and if that is the case then I think it was a masterpiece) when they released a 4 minute trailer (compiled from a 10 minute Wondercon trailer presentation) focusing on the Green Lantern Corps as a whole. This trailer was EPIC in nature. It presented the idea that this was going to be a large scale "Star Wars" like movie that would be based around a huge outer space battle between the Green Lantern Corps and Parallax. They even took the time to have quick shots of numerous corp members (some of which only the most studied Fanboy would know). Fans of the comic were back on board. I was back on board. From that point on, every trailer focused on this idea of a movie about aliens and outer space and how a human was joining these aliens to battle evil. There was only one problem upon seeing this movie. The 10- 15 minutes shown in the previews with the aliens and outer space are the only moments in the film! A good 90% of the movie takes place on earth and is mostly scenes of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively talking. I consider myself a pretty street smart person who doesn't get fooled that often but I must admit you win this round WB marketing team. You did a good job (that includes putting a legal embargo on reviews for this movie until the day before it was released to keep people from hearing how bad it was) pretending what this movie would be and I applaud you for that at least.

- Seventh How the !@#$% did this movie cost upwards of $300 million (150 for the film and about 150 on marketing) to make?!...... Now I'll be the first to admit, the scenes that took place in space were good but there was not enough of them to justify a budget that huge.... It just seemed like no one creating this film knew what they were doing and they burned through money trying to fix it (apparently with 2 months left to release WB sunk another 9 million on visual effects into this movie...I cant even imagine what it may have been like minus that 9 million)......On a side note, 2 weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Super 8, which while not as cgi heavy as Green Lantern, only cost $50 million to make....a perfect example of high cost does not equal high quality

- 8th, so this may have been my biggest pet peeve of the movie and I only noticed it because I am a huge nerd when it comes to noticing small insignificant things. Basically with a few minutes left to the movie (roughly the 98 minute mark....yup that observant) Sinestro addresses the corps one final time then raises his arms and the corps members shoot their lights into the sky as the camera pulls away and you see the light coming from the planet OA. Its a great scene but there was only one problem, it already happened in the movie! At the (roughly) 45 minute mark this scene happens for the first time....they literally replayed that clip to save $!!!!!!!! I know what your thinking.....that I'm really obsessively picking on this scene and they were just trying to be "cost effective"....but I haven't gotten to the best part yet....some of the Green Lanterns that are included in this copy and paste scene have already been killed (or told to us as killed by Sinestro) by Parallax halfway through the movie.....................I....I'm just done here

- Finally, I cannot finish this therapy session for myself without mentioning the scene that happens post/mid credits..........its a scene most Green Lantern fans have seemingly been waiting a lifetime to see,....Sinestro turning evil and putting on the yellow ring and becoming a yellow lantern, setting up a sequel where he will be the main villain................................ Just a little back story, I love Sinestro...He's arguably my favorite character/villain in the entire DC Universe.... He's cunning, powerful, and believes so much in his cause that you almost want to see him as right despite his evil ways....So to see him in all his yellow glory should have been a dream come true...Unfortunately, it was a nightmare. They took one of the most significant moments in the Green Lantern storyline and reduced it to a cheap post credits scene (The complete opposite of what Marvel has been doing by setting up future sequels perfectly). This scene and Sinestro's entire fall to "the dark side" should have been something an entire movie was based on but instead it was wasted on something half the audience didn't see because they had already had left the theater when it ended.

I've read other fans say that the movie was great and not that bad. I've read some people say that even if its bad that no real fan would tell people to not see this movie. Both of those arguments are completely delusional to me. The fact is, we were given a terrible movie based on a very good story. There were hints at what could have been a phenomenal film and a launching point for DC's larger future in the movie industry but overall there was just too much bad parts to pretend its worth seeing. The best advice I can give is one that the movie gave itself. If you stay all the way till the end of the credits there was a screen that came up advertising the Green Lantern trade paperbacks (volumed versions of the comics) and encouraging the audience to read the comics. I like to think that someone involved with the film who knew how bad it was but loves the stories threw that in as a way of saying "I know this sucked but I swear Green Lantern itself is really good". So if you (assuming anyone made it this far into my nonsense) can take one thing from this whole experience its something I learned a very long time ago......The book is ALWAYS better than the movie..... Ill see ya when I see ya folks


  1. Any lingering urge I still had left to see this movie for the sake of seeing it, has been put to an excruciating over marketed death. Now I'm usually the guy who gives the benefit of the doubt with comic book origin movies. "They gotta draw a larger audience, they can't appease just the fan boys." they say. Well this is why I loved Iron Man so much. It showed with the proper direction you really can please them all. But noooo, when studio execs are too antsy to push a movie out, it is at the expense of the audience, and we as consumers are sending them a message. Wiki currently has the movie at $80M revenue. If history has shown us, sometimes losing money may be the best incentive to learn from your mistakes. Great review Larry.


  2. don't you think that the story of Green Lantern is short even though its movie length is same as the others?

    Sig: Andrew | sphygmomanometer

  3. Just saw this movie and frankly, sort of glad I don't know the cannon. I am a big fan of other stories that really have to follow a canonical pattern or I lose interest. So let me offer the following thought about movies made of our mythical heros:

    Reboots are upon us right and left for Superman and Batman and only when Bale did the character did I finally feel I found a Batman that reminded me of who I read as a child. He wasn't Keaton's, Clooney's, Kilmer's, or...who else? But Bale seems to have nailed it. Further, the flimsy polyester suit has given way to a very armor laden suit that would seem fitting for a superhero who is really a smart mortal.

    So how many attempts at the character did we have until we got it right? (if we agree we did?)

    Superman, just watched the first Superman movies again recently. Lame now but awesome at the time. Its sad to see the wire work in SupermanIII and the later SupermanIV:Quest for Scripts is virtually forgettable.

    But, while I'm not all that enthused by the new one yet, I have hopes that someone will finally get the merging of comic and movie as we've begun to see happen with Stan Lee movies.

    Brings to Green Lantern....
    1. I'm a CG artist so I can easily get distracted by bad CG (ala Parallax) or even that we have a villain named Parallax, no fault of the movie makers....(because I know what a Parallax effect is)
    2. I do remember some of my Green Lantern comics from the 70s and 80s and checked out some of the latest work before seeing the movie to establish a sense of the cannon.
    3. There isn't much in the public knowledge about Green Lantern in the first place and even less about his history...thus
    4. Gotta start somewhere

    I'm glad they attempted to do the movie to begin with and think when I compare it to other character boots, this one did pretty well. I'm still in horror of the ridiculous Spawn CG and really hope they'll reboot that story.

    So why would I even recommend this movie to anyone?
    I think there are some key scenes that convey the traditional hero story well, self sacrifice, transcending one's limitations without much support, and having the courage to call truth to power.

    Especially, I appreciated the preliminary face to face with Sinestro and that the story does not hint at his future much, and he still serves as a good foil to Hal's development. If you've ever been in a senior/junior student relationship in martial arts or other fields (of which I have 2), this is very common behavior and the actors conveyed it well.

    "your constructs are feeble"
    really great lines here, in my view. it espouses my view on proper martial view and rhetoric. Square up one's intentions and be on the level. Have integrity and fear is the enemy of integrity.

    I give this movie a good recommendation and am completely open to all views on how it may have fallen short as cannon or if you see meaning that didn't come out.

    I agree with Ray about execs killing good projects. In some movies you'll have anywhere from 10 to 15 CG studios doing the work and it starts to come apart at the seams. The studios don't like getting those invoices.

    But...its a start.
    Thanks for your post and a chance to riff a though on this movie.

    One more thing...I also liked that they took the time to make the biosuit active and distinct. Gives more for the writers to consider and use to explain but moves it way from PVC and spandex.

  4. @Andrew The actually story presented in the film felt much too rushed even though if it had been done right the movies run time would have been plenty to fit everything in

  5. @OMRadio Ill admit I judge the movie on a much more harsh level than most. It was just too hard watching something I truly love be butchered on the big screen. Nonetheless I agree with you fully about having to go through several versions before getting it right in the past with Batman and hopefully soon with Superman as well. Despite everything I did enjoy the look and "biology" of the suit in Green Lantern and thought it was a great choice that they got away from the traditional suit in that sense. My favorite scenes in the movie all took place on OA as Hal trained with Sinestro and I really hope that Dynamic is explored more if there ever is a sequel/reboot. Definitely appreciate your input and hope to hear from you again.